Saudis Defend Rape Victim's Sentence

Woman may have been meeting man trying to blackmail her
By Daniel Kibblesmith,  Newser User
Posted Nov 21, 2007 5:07 PM CST
Muslim women cross a street in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.   (AFP)
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(Newser) – Responding to international outrage, Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry is defending the punishment meted out to an 18-year old rape victim, and then doubled when she appealed. The ministry says her sentence was increased—to 200 lashes and 6 months in prison—not because she took her case to the media but because new evidence was uncovered. They didn't disclose the new evidence, but her attorney told CNN that his client was abducted after meeting with a man he believes was trying to blackmail her.

The woman arranged the meeting to retrieve an old photograph of herself, the lawyer said, adding that the photo was not compromising. The man later blamed the woman for the meeting, which is illegal under Saudi Islamic law. Human rights groups are furious, and the US State Department  has "expressed our astonishment" to Saudi Arabia.